Yes! I was back! Everything looked the same like I never left. I could barely make it to class on time that day because I was constantly getting stopped by people who were so surprised to see me.
“Alana! You’re back. How are you?! How is the baby?”
“It don’t even look like you got a baby! You look good girl.”
I even read a tweet that said, “One person I really admire is Alana. Unlike most, she left and actually came back like she said she would.”
Aw man. I was feeling all thee love. I didn’t care how cold it was (it was January) or how far I had to walk to class. I would take my precious time to take in what I was experiencing. I could’ve cried. All that work and all those “no’s” turned into “yes’” with time.
I still had yet to find a good daycare for Addyson so that first week my parents and grandparents kept her back in STL (she was still going to daycare in STL) until I found one for her. I was in the Division of Family Services office just as much as I was in class securing foodstamps, TANF, and childcare assistance. No shame. I knew I needed the help and was not afraid to ask. The Friday before Addy was set to come to Columbia, I found a childcare about 10 minutes from campus and our apartment was walking distance from campus. Everything was finally squared away.
Addyson finally had her own space and I was happy to see her comfortable. I linked up with other student parents on campus (Hey Lanee! (one parent wonder) Hey Mia! Hey Emilia! Hey Tiffini!) who also offered great support as they were already making moves on campus with their children and I could look to them for advice. We really did have our own little student-parent community on campus so it wasn’t weird to see students walking around with their kids. Back to school BBQ’s, probates, or just roaming around the student center. Addy was not the only child there.
Seemed like the perfect situation. I know my major support system was two hours away but I had my best friend (Addy’s God Mother), I had the student parent community, and I had Parentlink & Cub Hub. Even with those, it didn’t take long for the stress to kick in, for me to get overwhelmed, and for me to start doubting the very decision to come back to school.
I wasn’t the best with money so even though I used my refund check for living expenses and received state aid, I was still trying to live beyond my means. I needed a job! I did not receive work-study so I literally had to be proactive in finding one. After six months of being on the search and coming to dead ends, it wasn’t until I received an accidental email that led me to my first job on campus (Thank you Susan!)
This kind of homework was different from the homework I was doing back in St. Louis. Nah, it wasn’t. I just always had my parents and my grandparents to come and keep her occupied if I needed to study. I didn’t have that anymore. Addy was going through teething and demanded a lot of attention. In my mind I was like, “Addy WHY would you wait until it was just you and me to start acting a donkey!” (God has a funny sense of humor). I remember the snow-pocalypse of 2011 and Addy and I were snowed in our apartment for three days while campus was shut down. CABIN FEVER!! Addy had to hurry and get back to childcare. That was entirely too much Mommy and Addy time.
The time I got a sinus infection and could barely get out of bed. That didn’t stop Addyson from needing me. Lord, it was the worst. I was light-headed and could not go to class, I was always sweating, and my cough was just disrespectful. I didn’t even want to get up and cook so sandwiches and fruit snacks it was. It got so bad that I almost passed out in the student center while Addy was at school and I knew I couldn’t drive back home nor pick Addyson up. Fortunately for me, (this was over the summer) Addyson’s God-mother was in town and took my car to pick up Addyson and take us both back home. Another student parent came and brought me chicken pot-pie for dinner. They both came in the clutch that day. I just knew I was going to die!
It was just a very blunt eye-opening experience for me. I never thought about the times that something could possibly happen to me and who would be there for Addyson if it did. I wanted to be back so bad that I didn’t care to consider those “what-if” possibilities.
What if Candess wasn’t in town that day and couldn’t pick her up?
What if my sickness caused Addy to be sick and now we were just both sick?
What if my teachers weren’t so understanding (like the one who kicked me out of class)?
What if Addyson’s daycare was closed on a day I had class?What if? What if? What if?
Countless stories like these I could write about, but the fact remained the same that God was/is a sustainer. I had to acknowledge that this time was different. This time, God granted me His permission to come back and would provide the entire time. I wasn’t immune to trials because He granted me His grace to proceed. Just a reminder that I am always going to need Him. It was a reminder that although I put in A LOT of work to get back, if it wasn’t for him, I would’ve never been back. Period.
Every situation I came across that caused me some feeling of anxiety or nervousness, God always came through. Even if it was at the very last minute, He always came through.
December 15, 2012 was the day I was rewarded for all my hard work, efforts, and prayers. I received my degree with Addyson right by my side. My question was answered. Yes I was supposed to be here and no I did not make a mistake by leaving my support system in St. Louis and finishing up what I started. I gained so much more and am now equipped with tools to help the next student-parent.
I guess that’s why I’m crazy enough to go back for my Masters. 🙂
God always sustains where He ordains.